Narses. Lead Byzantine seal (bulla) 12th century AD,
Nimbate bust of Saint Theodore facing, holding spear and shield; to left: O/Θ/E/O; to right: Δ/W/PO/C
[K]E BO / [HΘ]EI (TW) / [C]W ΔOV... / [NA]PCH in four lines
5.55g; 18x16mm; extremely fine, rev. off centre, choice portrait
("Lord, aid your servant Narses.")
Narses (also sometimes written Nerses; Armenian: Նարսես; Greek: Ναρσής; 478–573) was, with Belisarius, one of the great generals in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I during the Roman reconquest that took place during Justinian's reign. Narses was a Romanized Armenian. He spent most of his life as an important eunuch in the palace of the emperors in Constantinople.
Narses was of Armenian descent and a member of the Kamsarakan Armenian noble family, which was an offshoot of the House of Karen, a noble Parthian clan. His first mention in a primary source is by Procopius in AD 530.[better source needed] The year of Narses' birth is unknown; historians have given dates including 478, 479 and 480. The year of his death is also unknown, with dates given between 566 and 574, making him eighty-six to ninety-six years old at his death. His family and lineage is also completely unknown, with many different stories told about his origins and how he became a eunuch.
Agathias Scholasticus of Myrina described him thus: “He was a man of sound mind, and clever at adapting himself to the times. He was not versed in literature nor practiced in oratory, [but] made for it by the fertility of his wits,” and as “small and of a lean habit, but stronger and more high-spirited than would have been believed.
Condition: Very Fine
From a Private Dutch, Collection.